Samsung proposes to end patent wars in Europe

Korean handset maker Samsung has offered to call a truce over its ongoing patent disputes with rival handset firms. It has proposed to the European Commission that it will not to seek any injunctions over smartphone and tablet technologies in Europe on the basis of any of its standard essential patents (SEPs) for the next five years.

The offer comes as the European Commission voiced its concerns that Samsung’s recent seeking of injunctions against Apple in European over mobile technology patents have “amounted to an abuse of a dominant position prohibited by EU antitrust rules”.

The European Commission has invited comments from interested parties on the commitment offered by Samsung, who can submit their comments within one month. If the Commission concludes that Samsung’s proposal addresses competition concerns, it may decide to make them legally binding.

“I am looking forward to receiving the feedback of other market players on Samsung’s proposals,” said Joaquín Almunia, Commission vice president in charge of competition policy.

“Enforcing patents through injunctions can be perfectly legitimate. However, when patents are standard-essential, abuses must be prevented so that standard-setting works properly and consumers do not have to suffer negative consequences from the so-called patent wars. If we reach a good solution in this case, it will bring clarity to the industry”.

The  European Commission began its investigation into the issue almost two years ago, in January 2012. In December 2012, it informed Samsung of its preliminary view that seeking injunctions against Apple based on Samsung’s 3G UMTS patents in Europe may breach Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU), which prohibits the abuse of a dominant position.

Samsung owns SEPs related to mobile telecommunications standards and has committed to license these SEPs on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

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